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Carrie Etter

In the tea leaves he sees talons,

but as a séance produces not one

admonishing ancestor, he exchanges

a swipe of plastic for a ticket

and gently requests an exit row seat.


As usual, the in-flight magazine induces

vague dissatisfaction, though on the ground

he's never longed to merge into

a depachika's bustle in Tokyo

nor to dance in Memphis's oldest ballroom.


After hours hunched in coach, he disembarks

and recalls a photograph he saw as a child,

the picture of a hawk, one claw clasping

the loose skin of either side of a rabbit's neck.

That's the sharp pain in his shoulders -


talons - as he trods toward the baggage carousel

and nurses the most ordinary grief.


From Staple No 60 (Summer 2004)

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